Read the Journals of Central Australian Explorers

A while ago a friend asked me to provide a list of reading of the some of the explorers that came through the region I now call home. A small amount of research which involved me walking to my bookshelf provided a concise list. And a little more research showed these titles are out of copyright and available on the web for free!

Project Gutenberg is the place to go with the books available in a variety of formats (except there are no audio books listed for the following titles). This site has over 33,000 titles to download.

It is worthwhile to take a look at an Australian version which lists only Australian titles. It has a list of some of the Australian Explorers and their journals which are available online. It also links to a brief biography of the explorer.

Below are three of the books on my book shelf. The biographies are from Project Gutenberg Australia. To download the book click on the book title and a range of formats will be offered to you

David Wynford Carnegie – Spinifex and Sand

Carnegie was the fourth son of the Earl of Suffolk, England. After education as an engineer, David Carnegie worked on tea plantations in Ceylon, but joined the rush to Coolgardie when gold was discovered in Western Australia in 1892. Over a period of five years he prospected, and led several important exploring expeditions into some of Australia’s most arid areas. After leaving Australia, Canegie was appointed Assistant Resident in Nigeria where, at the age of twenty-nine, he died as a result of a wound inflicted by a poison arrow. At the time he was involved in attempting to stop a native uprising.

Ernest Giles – Australia Twice Traversed

Born in England in 1835, and educated in London, where he received a classical and literary education, Giles emigrated when he was 15 years old and joined his family in Adelaide. They had come to Australia the previous year. He spent some time working on cattle and sheep stations along the upper Darling River during which time he became a competent bushman.

Between 1872 and 1876 he led 5 expeditions into Australia’s unknown western interior, the last 2 on camels. He was driven by a desire to be the first to penetrate the area and set out without official support. He was never given material reward for his exploration work, but was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

During his travels he discovered Mount Olga, named the Gibson Desert and crossed the continent from east to west and later went back again by a different route. Despite initial setbacks and seemingly impenetrable wilderness, Giles never weakened in his purpose or his love of exploration. At one point in his travels, he sent his companion, Gibson, on to fetch help, riding their last horse, then struggled along on foot. Gibson was never heard of again. Giles ate the last of his horse meat and rapidly became weaker. Hunger drove him to eat, whilst still alive, a small dying wallaby, whose mother had evidently thrown it from her pouch. He was so hungry he wished he had its mother and father to “serve in the same way.”

In 1897 he died after contracting pneumonia whilst working as a clerk in the Coolgardie gold fields. Giles styled himself as “the last of the Australian explorers.”

John McDouall Stuart – Explorations in Australia

John McDouall Stuart already had an established reputation as an explorer when, in 1859, the South Australian Government offered £2,000 reward for the first man to cross Australia from south to north.

Setting out from Adelaide in 1860, he eventually reached the centre of Australia-the first man to do so. The hill named Central Mount Stuart commemorates this achievement.

On both this and a later attempt, he was forced to turn back, and it was not until 1862, with his third expedition, that he met with success, reaching the north coast near Darwin on 24th July.

Returning to Adelaide, Stuart was able to report that good pasture land was to be had to the north, and as a result of this expedition, South Australia accepted temporary control of Northern Territory. The Overland Telegraph, completed in 1872, follows very closely the route taken by Stuart.

Have a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.

Balzac, a Most Extraordinary Dog

We all get attached to our pets. My current dog a once wild dingo cross I wouldn’t give away for the world.

In 2004 Balzac my blue heeler died. He was an extraordinary dog. People rang up crying when they got the news. I recently had reason to find the email that I sent to friends and family back then. And even though it is self indulgent I decided to post it here. After all, it is my blog.

Have a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon

Everybody has a best mate. I guess over the last thirteen and a bit years mine has been Balzac.

From a pup on my spray deck paddling through the gravel rapids in the Yarra to swimming through them himself. Continually charging the back fence in Mount Waverley until it fell over, to get in the park and visit the neighbours. Then repeating it with three metres of chain attached to his collar after breaking the weakest link.


He’s been brought home in a police divvy van after getting caught in peak hour traffic, flattening himself against the road as two vehicles drove over him, the third, a Police divvy van pulling up in time.

He’s jumped out of the car window while doing 30-40 km/hr because he saw something interesting on the other side. Once, with the windows wound up and wanting to get out he charged the rear window of the station wagon exploding it outwards before calmly jumping out. Going for a drive was his favourite thing. Especially in the troopie where he can lie on a trunk behind my head and have a great view of the road ahead. He can never get enough.

With my mates he has something that I call the wow factor.

“Wow, can he fart” was usually the comment.

After a weekend of us blokes exercising in the mountains, living off wholegrain and other healthy products, perhaps with Steve throwing in a bit of buckwheat, add on exercise and we could fart. On arriving home Balzac could put us all to shame just from being excited to see us. This impressed everyone so much that a yellow Mambo musical farting dog sticker was put on my car.

He’s dragged some of my nephews and nieces behind him in a box with a chain pulled through it and attached to his collar – but forced to stop after several roll-overs on bends. He’s disturbed four thieves I know of. One time in Alphington he leaped from his couch on to the crook, and in Echuca I walked out to see him hanging a foot off the ground, his mouth around an ankle belonging to a lad who in turn was hanging off a high corrugated iron fence.

To try and tame him and stop him from thinking himself top dog, I took him to Mal’s parents farm to have a tough farm dog sort him out. Poor Tex had to slink around the fences of his own farm. Mal wet himself when I threw the frisbee, Balzac spun around, accelerated to full pace all the while watching the frisbee – and ran into the fence. He still has that pink spot on his nose where the skin was ripped off.

He enjoyed showing off his skill with cattle.

Imagine a strike in a ten pin bowling lane.

He has learnt not to play with geese and the fun you can have charging oncoming rams with a metal muzzle on. His best mate ever was a magpie called Henry and they went everywhere and did everything together.

Balzac and pelican

As a young dog he enjoyed swimming with me. Swimming around me in circles until I grabbed his tail and he pulled me in. At the age of nine he swam half way across the Murray to do the same thing when he noticed I wasn’t swimming so good after popping my shoulder. Going to the beach there was no better fun than running for miles snapping at oncoming waves until you swallow so much seawater you throw up in front of swimmers. He has jumped in an out of planes and jumping platforms with me as I practised skydiving.

He has bitten my ankle until I have responded to him and he has shown me a smoke filled room and then willingly followed me in as I went to find out why. He never trusts me out of his sight. I still remember proving that to my sister in law when I hid from him and he ran up and down searching for me. He would charge my solid back door until the 60 year old metal latch bent and the door popped so he could get in.

He never just accepted a pat. He gave as good as he got. usually with his tongue.

As I started travelling, no matter what the weather, rain, cold or hot, no matter if his bed was protected from the elements, I could always put my arm out of the swag and know he was lying next to me. if he was not there, he would be standing between me and the place from whence came the noise that woke us. He has willingly followed me everywhere from into the air to under the ground to running over hot desert sands from bush to bush, collapsing on his side and from that position resting on his thick coat scooping the sand away so he could stand on something cooler ready for his sprint to the next bush.

A couple of weeks ago Balzac looked like he had broken his leg. He had spinal arthritis. A large dose of cortisone eased the pain but he could not recover the use of his right leg, and his left leg was also affected. After a great Sunday where he chased the ball and loved a drive his condition worsened and he was suffering a lot of pain and unable to support himself. But he still repaid each pat, each time I held or carried him, with a lick. he was far from an ordinary dog, as loyal as you can get and I will miss him.

I had Balzac put down earlier today.

He is buried overlooking the sea near Balgowan where only a few weeks ago he was enthusiastically trying to find his way down a sheer ten metre drop to the beach so he could chase the waves.

I see Malcom Turnbull has a post today on his blog in remembrance of his red heeler who died over two years ago

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